Tweaking traditional advertising - the effective way of catching them young

By Monish Ghatalia, afaqs!, | August 06, 2014
Monish Ghatalia

It is said that the best way to understand someone, is to put yourself into the shoes of that person. The advent of the internet has given a whole new twist to this. Social networks, search engines and entertainment portals, one click of the mouse and you are able to navigate to different corners of the world. More so, the internet through the system of data analytics has been able to go down to the smallest details of customization for the viewer. Being a man or a woman today they advertisers can personalise what they sell to you and flash onto your screen after micro analysing your likes and dislikes! Kids are known to change their mind even more often! In such a scenario brands would be at a great advantage in positioning themselves strategically and reach out to the millions of kids who are clicking onto the internet daily. Revamping of internet content to suit kids will further help to increase the reach across platforms.

As compared to over a decade ago, today with dual income families, kids have an increased decision making power within the household. More than just a mere spectator, kids have become full fledged consumers. With the ability to recognise over 100 brand logos by the age of three, brand loyalty is established when a child is two! Gone are the days of using pester power wherein parents would end the conversation with 'because I said so', today purchases both big and small involve a child's opinion be it purchasing a car or a mobile phone. Pester power; a long overused tool has given way to children understanding that they should rather use their convincing skills to grab attention of their parent. Being more tech savvy, kids are able to point out pros and cons of particular products without any bias in mind. The television while still continues to be a mainstay of reaching out to the masses refuses to go beyond the ad-programme-ad conundrum. In such a situation the internet has been able to provide a better medium for brands to go beyond conventional advertising and increase recall through understanding interest.

Allowing for flexibility in advertising the internet has enabled brands to create stories around itself by moving beyond banner and clickable ads. Visual ads being a rage have allowed brands to create curiosity, be it through a game or a puzzle. Ask any teacher and they would tell you that the best way to explain any concept to a child is associating it tangibly. Working on these lines, the internet allows for the opportunity to go beyond advertising. Whereas parents do not appreciate any form of direct advertising to their child, the internet allows not to fool the consumer into buying a product but rather give immense opportunity to create brand recall. Brands therefore have the opportunity to explore the aspect of creating a responsible perception about themselves through the innovative ways that the internet gives them to reach out to kids. Digital engagement or blending into the virtual worlds that have been created not only allows for the child to engage virtually with the products but also recognise its use and gain hands on experience. A win-win situation on both sides is when the brand can create greater recall by engagement and the child will be able to gain more content on the internet to experience. A child will definitely connect more with a cereal brand when a game is associated to it. For example, brands such as McDonalds and Kellogg have created online games to connect with kids. Definitely not something that parent would oppose!

Digital engagement is thus slowly bracing itself for the future. Foreseeing the need for interaction with the brand, the engagement factor allows for brands to become more responsive to the consumer. Today kids are constantly accessing cell phones tablets and computers and seem to be getting older at a younger age. Giving them toys or teddy bears do not satisfy them. As part of the evolution, brands must also understand that they have to grow more sophisticated in their communication medium to kids. Besides the home, schools have also taken up to digital learning. With a marriage meant to last, the internet and technology seem to be walking hand in hand everywhere. With 134 million kids expected in India by 2017, there is a huge potential for brands to start building a base of their future consumers who are growing up with tablets in their hands.

The internet can therefore be looked upon as a ball of clay to kids, open to remodelling and can be stretched to limits. By adapting to a child's and his parents needs at a young age, brands can therefore establish a niche for themselves, be open to feedback and thus create trust in the mind of the consumer. A chain cycle of recall will thus be formed possibly to create the next Godrej (synonymous with cupboard) or Kellogg's (synonymous with Cornflakes). The vast space on the internet also means that there has been very less content designated specially for kids, in such a situation, the sooner brands recognise this, the greater advantage they will have in the kids market.